Monday, June 28, 2010

Talkin' bout my GIRL

I know I've mentioned this before, but people are constantly mistaking Morgan for a little boy. I admit this is partially (okay, probably 98%) my fault, since I don't go out of my way to make her look especially feminine.

It's not that I haven't attempted to doll her up or that I have anything against girly girls, in fact, the opposite is true. I adore girls in cute, coordinating outfits with flowery headbands! Morgan, on the other hand, despises them (headbands that is, not the pretty little girls). In fact, headbands are quite possibly the thing she detests most about life on this side of the womb. (Also in the running: socks, bibs, dresses and shirts with collars.)

Since Morgan is still nearly bald, any kind of barrette or cute clip is pretty much out of the question. People have suggested pasting a little bow in her hair (or rather, ON HER SCALP) with KY jelly, but we're not really bow people. We're also not big on anything lacy or particularly frilly for that matter. And even if I found an object that I felt was acceptable--girly, but not over the top--we still run into the lack-of-hair-issue. I think there is something odd, even a little creepy, about random objects stuck on a baby's bald head. So really, without going so far as to write GIRL across her forehead in bold, permanent marker, we're left with one option: dressing her in pink FROM HEAD TO TOE ALL THE TIME, which seems like it would require more effort than I'm willing to commit to.

This whole gender confusion issue used to be quite a sore spot for me (I may have even threatened someone with bodily harm for making the mistake of calling her a "cute little fella"), but I've reached a point where it honestly doesn't bother me anymore. People can call her a boy as much as they feel the need to. I mean, I know she's a girl and she knows she's a girl and who cares what other people think, right?

I suppose I've just grown up a bit.

Or perhaps the real reason I've become so complacent is that I find it sinfully delightful to watch strangers squirm as they try to figure out her gender. I absolutely LOVE it when someone says something like, "Your baby is so cute! How old is... um, your baby?"

If I were truly a compassionate person, I'd say "SHE's almost eleven months old." Instead, I say something to the effect of, "My baby is almost eleven months old, and my baby certainly is a cute baby, isn't my baby?" Then I stand there smiling until the puzzled stranger becomes so uncomfortable that they turn and walk away, silently cursing the crazy lady and her cute baby boy/girl, no doubt. You guys, it is just SO. MUCH. FUN!

So... maybe I haven't grown up that much.

Anyway, in case you happen to be wondering and you'd like to avoid a similar awkward experience, I'll just go ahead and tell you now: my baby is indeed a GIRL.

She's an enchanting pink princess who loves playing with her sister's tea set, who enjoys giving kisses and picking pretty flowers, and who sings beautifully as she sits alone flipping through the pages of her books; a darling little miss who also happens to belch like a drunken old man and occasionally sends poop shooting so violently out the back of her diaper that I end up having to wash it out of her hair (or rather, OFF OF HER SCALP).

Friday, June 25, 2010

Angels In Waiting


I just learned of Conner's passing.

I truly believe it was no coincidence that as I was driving home from work last night, I tuned into the local country radio station and heard these lyrics:

They always knew they'd never grow old, sometimes the body is weaker than the soul...

Just like that, I felt that all-too-familiar lump building up in my throat and the tears began flowing. I've always been touched by what a sweet tribute this song is to the artist's brothers (story below). Now, every time I hear it, I'll think of Conner.

Breathe easy, sweet boy...

-----------------------------------

"Angels In Waiting" by Tammy Cochran


We camped out on the living room floor
In our old sleeping bags, by a make believe fire.
In a tent made of covers, we talked for hours,
My two brothers and me.
Keeping the faith; racing with destiny.


They were angels in waiting.
Waiting for wings to fly from this world, away from their pain.
Treasuring time, til time came to leave,
Leaving behind sweet memories.
Angels in waiting; angels in waiting for wings.


They always knew they'd never grow old.
Sometimes the body is weaker than the soul.
In their darkest hour, I made a promise
I will always keep:
I'll give them life, I'll let them live through me.


They were angels in waiting.
Waiting for wings to fly from this world, away from their pain.
Treasuring time, til time came to leave,
Leaving behind sweet memories.
Angels in waiting, angels in waiting for wings.
Angels in waiting; angels in waiting for me.


They were angels in waiting.
Waiting for wings to fly from this world, away from their pain.
Treasuring time, til time came to leave,
Leaving behind sweet memories.
Angels in waiting, angels in waiting for wings.
Angels in waiting; angels in waiting for me

------------------------------------

"Cochran is the youngest child in a family of three siblings. Both of her brothers, Alan and Shawn, were born with cystic fibrosis, a terminal lung disease which claimed both of their lives."

"When I got my record deal in '98, I knew that I wanted to write a song for my brothers who passed away with cystic fibrosis... I wrote this song for my own personal healing, and then when I realized how many other people it helped, I thought, well you know what? It's kind of selfish of me not to share it! I'm pretty active in the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation--my family always has been. So, to me it's like spreading awareness, too."

"My brother told me when he was really, really sick that he was not going to be here very long. So, you know, he said 'You just live for both of us and we'll be fine.' Which is what I'm trying to do."

(Adapted from CMT.com news. For full article, please click here.)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Quite a cough

Four.

It's, on average, the number of times a day someone makes a comment about my cough. (Really, I've been counting.) Which means that four is also the number of times each day that a comment about my cough is followed by a little white lie- usually something to the effect of  these darn allergies, I just can't seem to kick this cold, or yes, I think a cough drop might help, thank you.

You see, I could explain the real reason I cough so much, but I figure nobody really wants to know. They're just making small talk. Imagine what someone's reaction might be when they said something completely harmless like "That's some cold you have" and I answered with "Oh, it's not really a cold. It's a physically and emotionally painful, progressive, life-shortening disease that will ultimately be the death of me. But, have a fantastic day." (I would never say that, by the way.)

If you or a loved one happen to have CF, then you are probably very familiar with the persistent cough that is par for those of us with the disease. For those of you who may not know what I'm talking about, let me tell you a little something: I COUGH ALL THE TIME.

I cough when I exercise, when I laugh, when I vacuum, as I do the dishes, throughout and for quite sometime after my breathing treatments, when I walk up my stairs, during sex (oh yes, I went there), as I carry groceries into the house, when I'm showering, after I've sneezed, if I take a deep breath too quickly, when I sing and even while I'm sleeping. Basically, anything I do that requires any amount of physical activity makes me cough, and quite often when I'm completely at rest, I still cough. And this is all very normal for me. So normal, in fact, that most of the time I don't even realize I'm doing it.

Case in point: just the other day, my two year old nephew, Logan, must have noticed my cough for the first time because he totally called me out on it.

"Are you sick, Jenny?"
"Nope. I feel fine, buddy."
"Were you coughing?"
" I don't know.....Was I?......"
"You were. I think you're sick."

It threw me for a bit of a loop. I don't even give it a second thought when strangers ask if I need a cough drop or say something like "You've got quite a cold", but I've never had to explain things to someone so young, so innocent. After thinking about it for a few seconds, I said to Logan, "You think I'm sick? Well, I do cough a lot, but I feel GREAT today!" Then I picked him up in my arms, spun him in a circle, (coughed a few times) and gobbled his little tummy right up.

Later that evening, I kept replaying the moment in my head. He was satisfied with my answer, distracted by me swinging him around and tickling him. But, it really made me think...The day will come when Morgan realizes that not every mom does the Vest or nebulizers, or takes a handful of pills each time she eats, or spends weeks at a time in the hospital. When she's old enough to realize that her mom is "different" and begins questioning that, I'm going to need real answers. I won't be able to distract her with tickles each time she asks why I'm not always able to do things that other moms can. She deserves to know everything, but I'm not sure how or when to introduce her to this ugly aspect of our lives. I know I have time before that day comes, but there is no better time than the present to begin preparing for it.

So...
 
Four.

It is now the number of times a day I'm trying to have patience and think of a real (positive, honest, and brief) answer before rattling off another white lie.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Her father's daughter

This is Richard Adam Livingston, the man I love, the father of my child:


He has an enormous heart, a ridiculous sense of humor, strong arms, incredible work ethic and unruly facial hair. Five years ago (next month) I stared at him through the glow of a campfire and knew that someday I wanted to marry him and bear his children.

This is our daughter, Morgan Paige Livingston:


She has her father's mischievous grin, his wide hands, his curious nature,  his innate ability to make me laugh until my sides ache and his, well... his everything, really.

(Except those big eyes, those are all mine.)

There have been times that I've felt like this whole parenthood thing is a bit unfair. I was the one with swollen feet and leg cramps. I was the one who experienced the never ending need to pee for nine months. I'm the one who was in labor for 20 hours. I'm the one who had to be stitched up and bled for weeks after delivery. I'm the one who had engorged breasts and cracked and bleeding nipples. Not that she isn't worth dealing with these ailments PLUS A THOUSAND MORE, the point is that I was the one who suffered all the physical pain of bringing her into this world, yet he is the one that she resembles most. Where's the justice in that?

But then there are the times that I watch them wrestling on the living room floor or quietly sitting together on the couch, just father and daughter making beautiful memories. Or the times that he steps outside to move the sprinkler and when he returns, she kicks wildly and squeals with delight as if he's been gone for several days rather than just a few minutes. And the laughs: the deep, unbridled laughs that only he can manage to evoke from her. The laughs that, just like his, are extremely contagious. And there are the tender moments when he thinks I've left the room and he begins singing to her or when he kisses her on the forehead and says "Good night, my Mo" as she drifts off to sleep. It's during times like these that I realize: HIS CONTRIBUTION IS JUST AS SIGNIFICANT, JUST AS CRUCIAL, AS MINE.


He may not have carried her for nine months, but he was there to flex my foot and rub my calf when I got leg cramps. He never once complained about driving to the gas station to get me a chili cheese dog and a Twinkie. He was there to help me climb into the truck when I was too big to pull myself up. He was there, pushing right along with me, during labor. He has always been willing to get out of bed and bring her to me when she cries. He offers to watch her so I can take a bubble bath and catch up on some reading. He'll hold her when she scrapes her knees. He'll open popsicle wrappers and juice cartons for her. He'll take her on daddy-daughter dates. He'll teach her how to drive a stick-shift. He'll be outraged when she gets her heart broken for the first time. He'll be able to teach her things I don't know and he'll be able to provide for her in ways that I can't. We will share the happiness, the heartache, the laughs, the triumphs, the disappointments and the adventures of parenthood, and really, that's what matters.

I think of what my life would be like without him, if he had looked back at me through that glowing campfire and said "I like you and all, but I really don't see this going anywhere". He could have walked out of my life a number of times, he could have given his heart and soul to another woman. But instead, he chose me...he chose us.

So, I suppose there is justice in their likeness, after all. He so deserves it.


Thank you for your contribution, honey. We love you!
HAPPY FATHERS DAY! 

Friday, June 18, 2010

My new step-mom-in-law

My father in law, Earl, got married last weekend, which means I have a new step-mother-in-law... as if the title of step-mom or mother-in-law weren't cliché enough, she had to go and combine the two!

I thought I'd share a few pictures of the wedding day, among which you can see the awesome entrance Shawn (the bride) made, the way Morgan's uncle Brody kept her entertained during the reception (pushing her around on a vaccuum) and Shylee dancing with her new "boyfriend" (her aunt Ember's boyfriend, Josh).








A big congratulations and best wishes to Shawn and Earl!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

How do you like your dentist?

Note: This is not my dentist. If he happens to be your dentist, LUCKY YOU!

--------------------------

Last night I dreamed that I was having an affair with my dentist.

Of all people, why am I dreaming about my dentist? I don't know... maybe because he has a ridiculously gorgeous smile? Because once when he was filling a cavity, I couldn't help but notice the bulging veins in his forearms? Because I'm strangely attracted to men 15-20 years older than me? Because if I were sleeping with him, I might get free dental work?

Any of those are possible reasons he might appear in my dreams (what? doesn't everyone think that man-veins and receding hair lines are sexy?) but before you start judging me, know this: not only did I confess the affair to Adam in my dream, I've also told him about the dream itself. And I've still been feeling incredibly guilty about my dream-cheating all day long.

Now here's my dilemma... I've been needing to have a couple wisdom teeth pulled for quite sometime now, but I'm fairly certain that I'll never again be able to walk into my (kinda beautiful) dentist's office without blushing like a little schoolgirl.

If he weren't so DARN GOOD at his job, I'd seriously consider looking for a new dentist.

Friday, June 11, 2010

June 2010 Newsletter: 10 months

Dear Morgan,

Who are you and what have you done with my baby? You certainly can't be my little girl, because my little girl would never get into my cupboards and scatter all my tupperware across the kitchen floor. Her favorite song definitely isn't "My Humps" by the Black Eyed Peas and she would never insist on listening to it over and over again as she bounced on the bed. Her favorite food couldn't possibly be Cheetos and I'd never let her eat something like Twinkies. She wouldn't make a mad dash for the stairway, laughing maniacally, every time we open the front door. She wouldn't even think about pulling all the laundry out of the dryer and throwing it on the floor. And she would never secretly make her way into the kitchen to stash fistfuls of dog food in both cheeks and down her diaper. Nope, certainly not my child.


I'm amazed at how often you do something simply because you know you shouldn't be doing it. The thrill you get out of being naughty absolutely terrifies me. If, at ten months old, you'll tear my magazines apart page by page, looking DIRECTLY AT ME with a devilish grin on your face the entire time, I don't even want to think about what you'll do at sixteen when your father and I tell you no, honey, you can't date that nice boy with a motorcycle and multiple facial piercings. Oh, and by the way- you're not allowed to date until you're 25. (Just thought I'd throw that out there now, so there aren't any surprises later.) You may not have big brothers to help me enforce that, but you do have several older boy cousins who I believe are going to be quite protective of you.


This past month we were finally able to take you camping. Thanks to your father, by the time you get into elementary school you will have already been camping more times than all the other kids combined... times three. It took you a little while to warm up to the whole playing-in-the-dirt-and-sleeping-in-a-trailer idea, but once you became a little more comfortable with your new surroundings, you simply couldn't get enough! You are absolutely fascinated with dirt and sticks, leaves and bugs, trees and grass and... well, basically anything that can be found outside. I'm not sure if this is something that your dad and I passed down to you genetically, or if God just knew it was mandatory if you were going to be born into this family.


There's this lip-smacking thing you do when a) you're about to eat something that looks good or b) you've just eaten something that you really enjoyed. One morning, while we were camping, I set you in a flower patch hoping to get some cute pictures. Shortly after I set you down, I heard you smacking your lips and before I knew what was happening, you had bitten off the entire head of one of the flowers. That wasn't the only time I heard your lips smacking that day. I also heard it before you ate a leaf and once again right before you shoved a twig into your mouth.


At some point during the last month, I crossed the line from caretaker and nurturer to caretaker, nurturer and DISCIPLINARIAN. I've learned that I'm clueless when it comes to disciplining a baby. Your sister is old enough to understand why we don't do certain things. She and I can access the situation, have a discussion and work out a solution, but I'm learning that similar discussions aren't nearly as effective with you. For instance, there is a potted plant in our living room that you absolutely love to play in. This plant is strategically placed up on a box, behind/between two pieces of large furniture. I thought this would be enough to keep you out of it, but you have proven me wrong time and time again. I can't count the number of times I've had to pick you up and carry you, kicking and screaming, away from the plant, telling you firmly NOT to play there. Last week, I left the room for literally a few seconds and returned to find you wedged between the furniture, standing on your tiptoes, reaching into the pot. I could tell from the mound of soil at your feet that you had already managed to throw a few handfuls of it on the floor and I guessed from the smacking of your lips that you had also shoved some in your mouth. 


Surprised, I shouted your name which startled you and you began crying. That crying quickly turned into angry screaming as I pulled you away from the plant and the tantrum continued until your fists were shaking violently and your face was beginning to turn purple. That's when, frustrated, I said (are you ready for this?) "MORGAN, THAT'S SO UNNECESSARY!"...Unnecessary? Really?... Most parents use words like 'no' or 'stop', but apparently I use words like 'unnecessary' and 'desist'... as if you should understand that there's a more appropriate reaction to the situation. I then proceeded to tell you about the importance of boundaries and taking care of the things we are fortunate enough to have (ie: not mashing potting soil into our carpet) and how even though we don't have the nicest carpet, we need to treat it with respect... that's when I stopped myself mid-sentence and thought (for about the hundredth time since you were born) OH MY GOSH, I'VE BECOME MY MOTHER!


When I was growing up, my mom was always talking about respect. Respect your elders, respect the furniture, respect our animals. I kept a mental list of things my mom said or did that I solemnly vowed to never say or do and the whole "respect" thing had a secure spot near the top of that list (right under saying "Who opened the gates?" when attempting to make a left hand turn into traffic). I was certain that I was never going to become my mother. I'm sure you'll feel the same way about me. I'm sure my mom felt the same way about her mom. In fact, I'm sure that it's something every girl feels at some point in her life. But here's the thing: no matter how upset my mom made me, how often she embarrassed me or how many times I disregarded her advice because I was sure I knew better, as I've gotten older I've come to realize that she was ALWAYS RIGHT. (Weird, huh?) She actually knew what she was talking about, although it's taken me years to see that. All those things on my list, the things I was never going to do? One by one, I'm having to check them off my list because I've done them. I'm slowly but surely becoming my mother and to be honest, it's not so bad after all.

I know it's unrealistic to hope that you're the exception; that you'll never think I'm terrible. I know there will be times that you don't like me. I'll upset you and embarrass you. I'll say things that annoy you. There will be times you'll wonder if we're even from the same planet and I'm sure that more than once you'll run into your bedroom, slam the door, cry into your pillow and swear that you'll never be like me. But, it is one of my greatest hopes that someday you will find guidance in my words, comfort in my touch and strength in the sight of my face, much like I have found in my own mother.


And maybe someday, perhaps as you're scolding your own daughter or pulling your car onto a busy street, you'll utter a few familiar words, stop yourself mid-sentence, and think of me with a smile.

Love,
Mama

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Camping

It took me a little while to get these posted, but here are some pictures of  (hopefully) the first of many camping trips this year. The weather finally cooperated and we had a wonderful, warm Memorial weekend.

Shylee and Logan

The sunsets were awesome! It's unfortunate that the especially long winter we've had means the trees don't have many leaves yet, but I think the bare branches make for some pretty cool silhouette pictures.
  
Ryan and Morgan

I believe this was Ryan's first camping trip (although they didn't actually stay the night, in my opinion it totally still counts). Don't you just want to dip him in butter and eat him up? 

Our nephew, Dakota, started digging a hole the first night we were camping. By the end of the trip, The Hole was the main attraction. The kids LOVED it and everyone took their turn digging. (And for the record: I've never met a child as willing to have their picture taken as Logan. Just look at that smile!)

My girls

 
Adam caught a horny toad (or, according to Shylee, a "bullfrog") and named it Thumper. He insisted that he was going to bring it home and keep it as a pet. I didn't realize until just now, as I'm typing this, but I have no idea what he actually ended up doing with it. That thing had better not be running around my house!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Simply enduring vs enduring well

Endure.

Isn't that just a terrible word? It seems so... daunting.

There are countless things that must be endured: illness, hunger, unhappiness, loneliness, destitution, physical pain, insensitivity... the list is never ending.

Of all these things to be endured, not a single one of them is appealing or pleasant. When I think of enduring to the end (as we are so often advised to do), I can't help but dwell on the long, agonizing journey that must be taken; the dismal waiting before the blessed relief.

Much like a child, I often feel like saying Fine! I'll endure it if I have to, but I'm NOT gonna be happy about it!

Yesterday, I was thinking about some discouraging things that are going on in my life and, just as it has so many times before, that terrible word kept hacking it's way into my mind: Endure... Endure... ENDURE! But, there was more... I kept getting the impression that this time, there was more required of me. Not only would I have to endure these unpleasant circumstances, I would have to endure them well.

My initial reaction was, You're kidding, right? I'm not particularly good at enduring, period. But to endure it well? As in, with GRACE? That's raising the bar just a little too high, don't you think?

But as much as I tried, I simply couldn't dismiss the thought of not only enduring, but enduring well. So instead of crying and complaining about it, I decided that at the very least, I could make an effort to accept it.
As I began to access situation with an open mind, something interesting happened: I actually started to like the idea. As I began to embrace the thought, I began to view the word endure differently. I no longer feel as though it's something being forced upon me: you must endure this! It has become more of a goal: I will endure this, and somehow I'll walk away a better person for it!

Not only is this a direct challenge to make it through with a positive attitude, it is an opportunity to draw closer to Him. There is something to be gained through these experiences and although I'm not yet sure what it is, I'm confident that someday I'll look back and feel gratitude for having gone through them. Although things may never work out the way I'm hoping, I believe they will work out how and when He wants them to. I'm learning that having faith in Him also means having faith in His timing.

So, although I'm not exactly sure what lies ahead and I have no idea what the end result will be, I've made a resolution to not only face these challenges, but to face them willingly and with my head held high.

I will endure this well.